If such a team existed, Tyrell Terry knows he wouldn’t be a candidate for the NBA’s all-brawn team. But he certainly would be a shoo-in for the NBA’s all-brains team.
Terry is 6-3 and lists his weight at around 170 pounds, depending on what he ate that day. As far as his smarts go, well. . .
In a basketball IQ test administered by NBA executives this summer, Terry broke the record for the highest basketball IQ ever registered. That type of knowledge should bode well for someone like Terry, who was chosen in the second round of last month’s NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, but didn’t have the luxury of playing in the traditional summer league due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and will now be playing his first preseason game on Saturday in Milwaukee against the highly-regarded Bucks.
“I think obviously as rookies we came in with a little bit of a disadvantage not having summer league, not having those runs, (and) getting used to the physicality,” Terry said. “But I think for me, kind of going off that IQ thing, using my IQ has kind of allowed me to mentally run the game and learn quickly.
“That test, the record I broke, is kind of just the IQ test that was administered by several league front offices and I guess the results were that I broke the record.”
In less than a week since training camp officially started, coach Rick Carlisle has already seen the benefits of having someone like Terry on his squad.
“His reputation is as one of the best shooters in the draft,” Carlisle said. “I think he and Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt (who was drafted No. 14 overall by Boston) were the two considered to be the two best shooters in the draft.”
And in Tuesday’s practice, Terry put on the type of shooting display that had Carlisle singing his praises.
“He had a phenomenal day today with that third unit,” Carlisle said. “Those guys were on offense as we were doing some defensive stuff, and he stretched his range out and he threw in some really great shots today and showed his range and showed his ability to get it going.
“Also, I think the other thing he’s adjusted to in training camp is the physical nature of the NBA. Today, he’s made good adjustments. He’s getting in more dynamic positions so that he can attack better.”
Terry knows his lack of physicality is going to be a question until he’s able to tackle it head-on by increasing his strength. In the meantime, he also knows there’s always his basketball IQ as his ace in the hole to help him get in the right spots on the court.
“I’m not where I want to be as far as weight and strength right now, so I’m working on that every day,” Terry said. “I’m getting extra lifts in and putting the right things in my body.
“I want to get stronger and I want to continue to mature my body. I’m never going to be some stocky player, so I’m always going to have to use some IQ to be able to maneuver around in the game and kind of work my way around from that.”
Carlisle has no doubt that whatever Terry needs to do to be successful in the NBA, he’ll find a way to figure it out.
“Look, this is a smart kid,” Carlisle said. “This kid was at Stanford. He’s going to figure things out. We’ve had him playing a little bit off the ball with J.J. (Barea) at point, and we’ve had him playing a little bit of point guard with the other younger guys.
“To me, he’s shown that he’s going to have the ability to play both of those positions very effectively offensively, and defensively for him a lot of it is going to come down to getting stronger, understanding how to play within the system and those kinds of things.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Terry ever since the Mavs made him the very first player selected on the second round of the Nov. 18 draft.
“I got to Dallas a week from last Friday (on Nov. 20),” he said. “I had to quarantine for a few days and get those consecutive negative Covid tests, and then we were allowed to start our individual workouts for three or four days, and then we moved on to team practices.
“It’s been a gradual increase as far as workload. I think we’ve all handled it well. I’m kind of excited to see what we can do moving forward.”
With no summer league to help jump-start his NBA career, rookies like Terry were kind of thrown into the extremely hot fire right away. Since then, it’s been akin to taking an Evelyn Wood speed reading class.
“This is like being put in a microwave and having to get heated up real quick,” Carlisle said. “They’ve been really helping us in camp as sort of a shell group that goes through things. They get here real early, we teach them drills and they’ve really helped us get in situations where the vets can rep things out. And then they’re also playing competitively.
“We rotate that team in with the other two teams, and they’re doing a lot of good things. It’s just an unusual situation not having the summer league, not having a period of months to know what’s going on and maybe look for a place to live and that kind of stuff. All things considered, these guys are really, really doing well.”
To assist him with the quick transition from playing just one season at Stanford to playing in the NBA, Terry has consciously relied on another Stanford product – Mavs center/forward Dwight Powell.
“He’s been a really good vet for all the rookies,” Terry said. “I think it’s great for me to be able to lean on someone that went to the same school as me.
“He’s been great to me so far and I feel like he’s a person I can lean on moving forward.”
And in moving forward, Terry is very appreciative of the fact that he made it to the NBA. Also, despite not being drafted in the first round where many draft experts projected him to go, he’s very thankful he was one of the 60 players drafted last month.
“I was fortunate enough to get picked at 31, but I think for me I’m grateful that I didn’t go higher,” Terry said. “I feel like I came to a great situation for me.
“I got the right situation coming to Dallas and I feel very comfortable here – (with) a lot of great vets, great coaching staff, great organization as a whole. I could have gone higher as I was projected to, but I’m grateful that I’m even in the NBA in the first place, so that’s kind of what I feel about that.”